Spanish Texas: Legend & Legacy



  • The Grace Museum (map)
  • 102 Cypress Street
  • Abilene, TX, 79601
  • United States

Explore the history of Texas as a unique blend of Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-American traditions through Spanish Texas: Legend & Legacy exhibitions at The Grace Museum.  Trace Spanish exploration and colonization (1527-1690) of Texas through early maps, art and artifacts on loan from prestigious museums and collections from across the state.  Santos, retablos, art, vestments and artifacts from several of the state’s 17th and 18th century Spanish missions will retell the story of faith on the Texas frontier.

Trade and the military outposts of presidios also shaped territorial disputes of early claimants to the area. Conquistadors’ weapons and armor brought a new style of warfare to the plains. Spanish explorers reintroduce horses to North America, brought livestock and vaquero traditions that formed the genesis of the Texas cowboy. European cattle and horses changed the people and the landscape forever. Early weapons, armor, saddles, tack, leather and metalwork on view represent Spanish and Mexican craftsmanship and attention to detail that continued through the Spanish Colonial era and Mexican Independence.  

Thomas Allen (1849-1924), A Prairie Scene with Mexican Herdsmen and Cattle, 1879, 16” x 32.5”, oil on canvas. Courtesy Rainone Galleries, Inc. Arlington, Texas. High Resolution image by David Wharton Photography of Fort Worth.

 The Spanish language continues to play a major role in Texas vernacular through the names for many of the rivers, towns, and counties in the state and Spanish architectural concepts still flourish.  16th and 17th century maps and documents on loan to the exhibition demonstrate early misconceptions of the new world and shifting boundaries claimed by the French and Spanish as they claimed territory that appeared, by European standards, to be theirs for the taking.

The exhibitions will be co-curated by the award-winning team of art and cultural historians Judy Tedford Deaton, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Collections at The Grace Museum, Abilene, Texas and Michael Grauer, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art and Western Heritage, The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas and will include artwork by important artists who documented the era including: Jose de Paez (1727-1780), Thomas Allen, Jr. (1849-1924), Nicholas Enriquez (1738-1770), Leon Trousset (active c. 1838-1917), Porfirio Salinas (1910-1973), Jose Cisneros (1910-2009), José Arpa y Perea (1858–1952), Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), August Guy de Vaudricourt (active 1800s), Karl Hermann Lungkwitz (1813–1891), Miguel Herrera (1700-1789), Frank Tenney Johnson (1874-1939) and Jerry Bywaters (1906–1989), and early photography by Alexis V. Latourette (active 1870s-1880).

Spanish control of Texas was followed by Mexican control and Texas Independence, each occupation left lasting influences on the state. Today Latin American (Hispanic/Latino) traditions remain an integral part of Texas art and culture.  Travel back in time through, Spanish Texas: Legend & Legacy, and rediscover the origins of historic traditions that continue to inspire and inform la mezcla de culturas that is Texas.